Across September, Valley of the Suns will deliver predicted stat lines for all 16 players currently contracted to the Phoenix Suns for the 2022-23 season.
Jae Crowder’s future at the Phoenix Suns has been a prominent subject this offseason, largely thanks to the veteran’s cryptic social media activity. It’s a rather strange set of circumstances given the success Crowder has helped bring the franchise over his two seasons in The Valley.
The 32-year-old may see his writing on the wall though, with a younger Cameron Johnson waiting in the wings and breathing down his neck for the Suns starting power-forward role.
Jae Crowder may be on borrowed time at the Phoenix Suns, but the experienced wing is still a valuable NBA role player who could yet have a significant impact on the team’s 2022-23 season.
Crowder had a down year in 2021-22, averaging the least amount of points in his last five seasons. He was also largely inefficient, shooting under 40% from the floor for the first time since his rookie year in 2012-13.
Defense remained an impressive staple of Crowder’s game and was a key aspect to what the Suns achieved during their historic regular season campaign. His 3.4 defensive win shares were the second-best of his career, and it maintains as the only major argument as to why he should retain his starting role over Johnson.
At 32 and on the last year of his contract, Crowder enters an intriguing phase of his career. He’ll be motivated to play well in trying to ensure he can earn another multi-year deal at around $10 million per season. Failure to achieve that and he could quickly find himself as just another one-year, veteran minimum player.
But how much does his body have to give? He’s by no means old, but a career of guarding the best wings in the game has to catch up to him at some point. Crowder can defy father time by a rejuvenation in three-point shooting – he shot just 34.8% last season compared to 38.9% in 2020-21.
There’s no doubt success follows Crowder wherever he goes. From that sense Phoenix may be hesitant to trade him, although he does appear like the best path towards acquiring a roster upgrade.
I suspect he is moved on at some point this season, but regardless of whether that occurs or not, he’ll likely see a reduction in minutes as he’s pushed back to a bench role. If this does eventuate, then his willingness to accept it and continue playing his part will be a key storyline early in the Suns season.